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Joined Dec 27, 2015
106 Blog Posts

The Best Home Luxury Upgrades for Your Money

Owning a home is a dream come true for so many people. It means you’ve done well enough in your adult life to afford such a great investment, and it means you have the capital you need to invest in your future. What happens, though, when you decide you’re ready to make some improvements at home? You’re making a little more money, you want to add some luxury upgrades to your home, but you don’t want to spend too much or over-improve your home. It’s a wise consideration, but these are some of the best luxuries you can invest in that only make your home more valuable.

 

Outdoor Living Spaces

People love outdoor living spaces. It’s an extension of the home, and it has the potential to add serious value to any home. Your home is no exception. With affordable inground pool prices more reasonable than ever, it only makes sense to consider adding a luxury backyard to your home for investment purposes. You can add a pool and spa, an outdoor kitchen, and even an area in which you can sit around a fire pit and enjoy cooler nights. These are great features, and they are big selling points for many buyers.

 

Upgraded Kitchens

No one wants a boring kitchen. It’s the place where you spend the most time, and it needs to be a place you love to spend time with your family. Today, the best thing you can do is upgrade your kitchen and make it a luxe space. Marble, granite, and quartz are all upgraded countertop features, a glass tile backsplash, and upgraded appliances are always worthwhile upgrades and investments. A large island with ample seating is a selling feature, and large farmhouse sinks are great investments. If you really want to invest in something that will make you money if you sell, a double wall oven is perfect.

 

Smart Home Features

Everyone loves a smart home these days, and it’s worthwhile to invest in items that make your home smarter and more efficient. Start with a smart thermostat, and then go for smart outlets. When you have a smart outlet, you can customize it with your Google Home or your Echo to control things with your voice or even with your phone. Imagine being able to turn on the coffee pot with the touch of a button or the sound of your voice before you even get out of bed. That’s the kind of home upgrade people are looking for.

 

A Gate

If your yard is not fenced in, perhaps it should be. To add a little luxe to this, add a gate to your driveway. This is the best way to make your home feel a little more luxurious as soon as you drive up. The gate also does a great job of keeping unwanted visitors off your property, and it certainly helps minimize the number of solicitors that show up at the front door to sell you their product, convert you, or share their beliefs. A gate is a great way to keep the kids safe, to help your family more comfortably own a dog. It’s not too expensive to add a gate, either, and it’s something that might just make selling your home much easier if you ever decide to move.

 

Adding luxurious upgrades at home is something you should consider, but you should always do your homework. Not all upgrades are good ones because they don’t always add value to your home. Find out what makes a great investment in your neighborhood, and be careful not to over-improve your home for the area. It makes your investment more expensive, and it might be the deal-breaker you don’t want when it comes to selling your home. Even if you don’t sell, these are upgrades you can feel confident are worth the money you spent.

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How First Aid Training Can Boost Workplace Morale

It is the employer’s legal responsibility to provide for the health and safety needs of their employees. The employer should make sure that, if an accident happens or someone has gotten sick, the employee receives immediate care. If a nearby clinic is not equipped to care for significant injuries, the employer should see to it that the employee gets transported to the nearest hospital.

However, in cases wherein there are no nearby hospitals, clinics or infirmary, Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) states that someone in the industry should know about first aid training. Employing someone who is equipped with first aid training is a definite plus in the workplace since accidents and illness aren’t running on a schedule. Accidents happen anytime and especially when you least expect them.

First Aid
As much as possible, first aid training is required for all workers. A risk assessment should be conducted to find out the company’s first aid needs. If the workplace is low-risk, the first aid kit should have the necessary tools for the usual cuts and abrasions. If it’s a high-risk workplace, then the first aid kit should include tools for initial treatments of the injury.

Employee Training
One way for an employer to prepare for future accident or illness situation is for them to conduct first aid trainings to their employees. For financial reasons, some employers select employees in each department to attend the training session. It would be better, however, if most of the employees receive training to reduce the severity of an accident.

For example, cardiac arrest happens to people of all ages, anywhere, and at any time. If you look at the 2017 reports done by the American Heart Association, 37.4% of cardiac arrest victims survived due to the help of bystanders who performed immediate first aid before help arrived. If ever this happens in the workplace, employees who have undergone first aid training will have to be the first responder. Usually, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training is being given together with the first aid training. However, if this is not the case, there is ACLS online training provided for people who are too busy to attend a scheduled on-site class.

Providing first aid training to employees can also be advantageous for the company since this will be tailored based on the nature of the business. If the industry is in food retail, then the training would be different for a BPO company.

Customize to Your Workplace
To ensure that you have provided adequate training and facilities to your employees, employers should consider the hazards of the workplace and the size of the organization. Ensuring the safety of your employees can produce high morale in the workplace. This often leads to a positive attitude towards work which in turn will lead to the efficiency and effectivity of the employee. This will also reduce accidents since employees who have a positive attitude towards their job often exercise self-discipline and follow safety procedures.

Immediate Benefits
Employers will also give their employees the confidence to do what needs to be done in the event of an accident. Usually, people who lack the training tends to panic. However, with training, the employee will be able to act accordingly. They will be more aware of the problem surrounding the incident and will be able to ask the appropriate question in relation to the accident. This will help reduce further damage because they will be able to effectively manage the situation without getting overwhelmed.

The immediate response of the trained employee will also help in the recovery time of the victim which will lessen the impact of having an employee being absent from work. This can also help your employees outside of work since they can use it on themselves and on a variety of people who may need their assistance.

Providing first aid training and refresher trainings will give your employees time to bond with each other since this will also serve as a team-building exercise for them. Ensuring the safety of the employees will help create a healthy working environment which will result in high productivity for the company.

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IT Hiring and Financial Trends That Are Going Out Of Style

Although it underpins your business, IT can be one of the most unforgiving work environments for your workers to be in because there is so much uncertainty regarding the future of any one given skill set.

 

At the same time, because the bulk of IT workers are committed to constantly updating their skill sets, most companies are able to field fairly formidable staffs from a technical standpoint. The key for most managers that are considering hiring more IT workers is to understand the basket of skills that you will need to pick up to have the strongest hand after your new hire starts reporting to work.

 

With regard to divining which skills will be necessary, here are some IT hiring trends that are going out of style:

 

Local Implementation Specialists:

Over the past 5 years, the cloud environment on top of the conversion from desktop PCs to Flat Panel computing devices has created a world where the only specialists that you need are working on enhancing servers and application services as they appear online in the cloud. There is no longer a need for desktop specialists to work one on one with computer users locally in order to install things correctly.

 

At the same time, a lot of people that apply for work with your IT department will tout that type of skill or background because it was how IT was run in the past. One suggestion if you like their other skills and you are interviewing them is to ask them to tell you how their now non-applicable skills can be applied to the environment that you currently have. You might find that they have some pretty creative answers that can give you a better picture of how they will turn out as an employee.

 

Network Monitors:

Most networks that are onsite in a business these days are focused on providing Internet access to the end user no matter where they are in the building. If your organization is used to working with people that have monitored using TAP networking or other types of LAN-specific metrics, you will likely find that the skills sets of the specialists that worked at large companies will no longer be of use to you in some respects. On the other hand, if they have Bluetooth and Cloud monitoring experience, they can definitely help trim your networks in terms of the geographic layout and ensure that every corner of your business receives the best performance consistently.

 

There is an interesting mix of hardware and software skill set that goes into a good network monitoring person. In addition to Bluetooth and Cloud monitoring, if you look at RFID and actual protocol experience with mobile technologies, you will be helping yourself prosper for the next couple of years.

 

Tech Support Specialists:

Unless you are working with an application that is very private in terms of its functionality, there is no longer a real need to hire technical support specialists that cover your applications. The job type might make them responsible for some very important people in your organization, but most firms have either centralized their support teams somewhere globally or taken them offsite to a trusted vendor.

 

Companies like Intel are famous for perfecting a process and then outsourcing it so their own workers can actually be adding value. Since technical support processes were fairly perfect in many respects a decade ago at most firms, it is pretty hard for many upper managers to justify keeping technical support specialists onsite.

 

IT Hiring is subject to change every quarter from a technical standpoint just like ACLS online renewal certificates change frequently- and that is the challenge that attracts many people that want to get involved. If you stay on top of the positions and skills that are likely on their way out, you can more effectively filter your next list of candidates.

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Family Lessons For Frugal Living

 

Frugal living is not an innate virtue we are born with; instead, it is a skill that must be handed down from parents to children. A report from money.cnn.com states that the average family income in America is just over $56K. While that may be a king’s ransom in some foreign countries, it calls for tight budgets in ours.

 

One of the best gifts that you can teach your children is how to be good with money. Being frugal doesn’t mean people are cheapskates. It simply means that they are wise savers and buy the best quality items within their budget. Here are some excellent tips for teaching your children about frugal living:

 

Money Has Value

As a child, many of us did not understand inflation and the shortage of money. We assumed that the government should just print some more! Some children (and sadly, some adults) think that as long as there are checks in the checkbook, you can just write out what you want.

 

Have age-appropriate discussions with your children about basic finances. If you give them a small allowance each week for chores, they will learn how money is earned for the things they want. Show them the value of saving money for bigger ticket items. When they get older, they will see how important it is to live on a budget.

 

Dutch Treat Items

As your children get older, they will probably get a part-time job. Teach them financial responsibility for the things they want by matching funds. For example, when your teens want a car, tell them that whatever money they earn toward it, you will match. Instead of handing over a free car, your children will be more grateful for an item they worked to purchase.

 

Teach The Difference Between Need and Want

We have those silly advertisements on television to thank for our kids wanting the latest toys and gadgets. The American Psychological Association states that over $12 billion a year is spent on advertising geared toward children.

 

As parents, it is our job to teach kids the difference between the things they “need”, and things they only “want”. If something is not necessary for daily living, it is a want. Tell your kids that it is okay sometimes to have some wants; however, they need to save to get them.

 

Show Them How To Bargain

Even little ones can help you clip coupons. Show your kids how your review store circulars, and check out sales. They will learn how to be patient and buy things when they go on sale. When planning a family vacation, show them how to hunt for bargains. There are plenty of sites where you can find discounts on Disneyworld tickets and hotels. The family that saves together has fun together!

 

Teach Children How to Upcycle

Let your children’s imagination reach to the stars when you teach them how to make things from everyday materials. Back in the old days, many kids made their own toys from things they found around the house and outside. Instead of just throwing things away, try to find other uses for it. Not only will your kids have fun, but you will be saving stuff from ending up in a landfill, says howstuffworks.com.

 

Second-Hand Treasures

Some of the prices on items in department stores are shocking. You can often find the same quality items gently-used in a thrift store. Introduce your kids to the wonderful world of second-hand shopping. You can find everything from name brand clothes, toys, and household items in a thrift store at a fraction of the cost. Keep your eyes open for garage sales around your neighborhood. Your children can find all kinds of good things cheap.

 

Your children will follow in your footsteps. If you teach them financial responsibility at a young age, they will flourish as an adult. Frugal living is a vital skill that all families need to learn and follow. It can mean the difference between being debt-free or wallowing in bills. You want the best for your children, so it is up to you to train them well.

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3 Decisions Worth Re-Evaluating to Save Hundreds This Year

There is a global revolution that is happening – people are already learning how to invest and where to put their money. The younger generations are leading the way on financial investments. It is very important for someone to check his or her financial decisions to see if the goals are being met. If not, they he or she can be in a big financial trouble, and the best solution to address it is to check back the decisions made in the past months and re-evaluate. Below are some useful and helpful tips that will help an individual to save more money and to manage his or her own finances wisely.

Retirement Is Important

People tend to forget how important retirement is. As we age, we should be able to deposit money inside our bank accounts, and some of it can be invested in the long run so that by the time we reach the age of retirement, there is still a source of income for us. There are two kinds of people – those who are investing early, and those who are investing late. Those who are investing early are people – especially the younger generations – who learned how to manage their finances by the use of the internet. They watched videos from YouTube on how investments work, and how it will help them when they retire. These people tend to open up a bank account, open up a stock market portfolio, join hedge funds and mutual funds, invest their money in volatile investments like Bitcoin, and so much more. These people are not afraid of the risks because of the knowledge that they gained through education, and they are looking forward to earn so much when they reached the age of retirement. Those who are investing late might be someone who ignored retirement when he or she is younger, and end up with no money on hand at all. They tend to correct their mistakes by investing later in their lives, but they would never be able to experience the full potential of their investments.

Insurance is Important

Some people are having trouble explaining what insurance is all about. They scramble to look for the answer and some can’t even describe or define what it really is. Insurance, in its simplest sense, is an assurance. It assures those who purchase an insurance plan that something can be covered if an unfortunate event ever were to happen. People tend to overlook the importance of insurance plans, with some thinking that these are additional expenses for them to pay. There are many kinds, such as vehicle, property, health and life insurances, which are the most important. Health insurance comparison against life insurance is that the former would cover diseases and sickness, until the plan holder is treated or cured. Life insurance, on the other hand, would assure the members of the family of someone who passed away that all the expenses needed for the burial and the funeral will be covered by the insurance company

Credit Score is Important

Many people fail at this last point. Credit score is explained as an individual’s financial score based on his or her credit card records. The more someone pays on time with the exact amount of fees, the higher the credit score will be. Individuals who tend to pay their dues late are given lower credit scores. Credit scores are very important especially in the United States. It is one of the requirements in purchasing a new asset, especially with vehicles. If a dealership found out that their client’s credit score is low, the vehicle might not be released. It is also used for other transactions, and when a credit score is low, the individual will not be given any priority at all. These tips are important in order to prevent an individual to perish from having unmanageable financial problems. It is better to take note of these tips in order to help you out in the future.

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How the Presidential Election Has Affected the Stock Market

Presidential elections are regarded highly in every nation since they have a major impact on the stock market. This explains why projections were found everywhere, for example,  in the US 2016 highly-contested presidential elections, which was a tense season for an investor in the stock market at that time. The debate was very important because it was presumed to have the power to affect people’s investment portfolio on the stock.

 

In spite of the fears, some experts in this industry explored a different line of thought. They opposed the more conventional scientific strategies such as the common strategies. These investors advocated other protective approaches in 2016 due to volatility of the market. This is purely a risk management strategy approach widely known as ‘protective collar’ that uses index options to try to hedge or cushion a portfolio against possible loss.

 

The key ideologies proposed in last year’s (2016) presidential elections incorporated respective key party affiliations (Republicans or Democratic) of the presidential candidates in relation to stock market trend. As much as the collar strategy is in place and is widely used as a means to risk mitigation among investors, there is a lot of information from years of cumulative studies and data collections that we cannot afford to disregard entirely. Hence this can be documented as a complementary approach to the conventional means.

 

4- year Election cycle impact on Stock market

Studies show that over the past 182 years, the behavior of stock market has been oscillating over the 4-year election cycle. According to Stock Trader’s Almanac, the cycle is usually divided into 2 halves with first half of the term characterized by market recession, wars, and bear markets. The last 2 years in a political term consists of bull markets and good performance of the stock portfolio.

 

This proposal is however not without exceptions because during President Obama’s 1st year of his second term in white house, there was a remarkable change in the Dow up by 27% and 7.5% in 2nd year respectively. To a potential investor, this market trend was very crucial. With the strategy as a sure buffer, you could easily stay afloat with your investments.

 

Prevailing or political team in power

When it comes to US Presidential elections, there are several ideologies and expectations on the stock market based on whether it is the republicans or democrat taking up power. Ideally, it is expected that republics are more business-friendly as compared to democrats and hence many investors would expect their portfolios to perform better during republican regime. However, it may come as a shock to you that stocks have actually performed better with Democrats in the white house as a study shows. On average, the democrats easily raise the performance by about 9% as compared to republicans in office tailing at 6%.

 

In 2016 prior to presidential elections, Russ Koesterich refuted the proposal of presidential elections impacting the stock market in totality. Instead, he argued that this may have an effect on various sectors of the economy based on various candidates’ agendas. In his presentation, he insinuated that conventional methods such as the strategy may have more accuracy when it comes to risk mitigation.

 

Stock Market performance 3 months to elections

Interestingly, the performance of the stock market around 3 months prior to the US elections has been cited to predict the presidential results. This is according to study that the incumbent party is most likely to win the race to white house if you see the stock market booming in this period. However, this trend was broken in presidential elections of 1956, 1968, and 1980 questioning its accuracy.

 

It is evident that these scenarios as rounded up by cumulative date over time and may not be as accurate as convention strategies. However, it helps to keep alert to grasp as much insight as possible around the US elections to ensure that the presidential elections do not adversely affect your stock market portfolio.

 

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How To Transform Your Business Finances in 2017

Running a business is a major challenge for anyone. Business owners today have access to more technology than ever before. However, some business owners have trouble leveraging all of the technology available to their advantage. Before investing in new technology, it is vital that your business is in a good financial position.

 

There are numerous ways to improve your business finances this year. If you are tired of dealing with cash flow issues on a monthly basis, you should work on ways to improve in this area.

 

Pay Down Debt

 

One of the biggest issues that business owners have to deal with is paying down debt. There are numerous examples of companies that have gone out of business due to high levels of debt. Many small business owners have to take on some debt when starting a business. Although not all debt is bad, some business owners end up having cash flow issues because they cannot manage the payments.

 

If you are carrying too much debt as a business, it is vital to start paying it down. Over time, small investments in the principal of your debt can make a huge impact in the overall amount owed. This is a great initiative for your business to grow in the future.

 

Improve Inventory Carrying Costs

 

If your business carries inventory, managing the inventory is a great way to improve your finances this year. There are many business owners who never consider inventory carrying costs. However, carrying too much inventory is not an effective use of cash.

 

Some business owners wrongly assume that buying more inventory automatically results in higher sales. Although this is true in some cases, it is not a rule that you should follow to increase sales. You need to thoroughly assess how much inventory your business carries relative to the total sales of the business. An excess of inventory results in various damage issues to your products. Over time, too much inventory will erode the profitability of your company.

 

Invest in Big Data

 

Another great way to improve your finances this year is to invest in big data. There is more data available for business owners than ever before. However, there is so much data that interpreting the available data can get confusing.

 

Leveraging an advanced GPU database is a great start to this process. This type of database is enabled for certain types of computers. The main advantage of using this type of database is simply the processing speed. You can make a much faster decision when using this technology as a business owner. With more information available to customers than ever before, it only makes sense to use the technology that is available.

 

Leverage Cost Improvements

 

Decreasing costs in a business is crucial to maintaining a high level of profitability. As your company continues to grow, the expenses in your business are going to continue growing as well.

 

Every year, you need to assess all of the expenses in your business. If there are expenses that are not adding value to your business, you need to decrease or eliminate them completely. Although this seems like a tedious task, it is a vital exercise to reaching your potential as a company.

 

The entire economy is starting to grow at a rapid pace again. There are many business owners who are excited about the future and the growth of their business. Using technology to your advantage is essential in growing your business. There are various different options for leveraging big data today. Make sure to research these options before choosing a product or service to use.

 

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How to Succeed in Healthcare Investing

Over the last couple years, the fate of healthcare stocks have been in question. With ample political turmoil surrounding the topic to give investors cold feet and the healthcare sector stock index turning up negative in 2016, reasons to avoid healthcare investing have not been in short supply. And the list goes on. Many investors have been steering clear of healthcare, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the only winning move in this economic climate.

 

Investing in healthcare can be a profitable exercise, if the investor knows what to do. Just as a physician assesses the state of a patient in order to determine the most appropriate treatment plan, an investor must know how to assess the state of a market in order to choose wisely in healthcare investment. In light of this analogy, let’s take a look at some considerations to make when approaching healthcare investing.

 

Check the vital signs

The first thing any doctor does when a patient comes through their door is check check their breathing, blood pressure, pulse and temperature. This exercise is a prerequisite to proceeding toward any kind of diagnosis. This will alert medical professionals of any previously undetected issues that may be more pressing than what was originally suspected. Once this simple but critical step is successfully cleared, the physician will proceed.

 

Similarly, when an investor is considering a healthcare stock to invest in, there are certain “vital signs” they should explore as prerequisites to see if the stock is a viable options, or if there are greater risks involved than anticipated. One investor, Brian Hennessey of Alpine Woods Capital Investors in Purchase, New York, reported that among the vitals he looks for are a solid balance sheets, reliable earnings drivers and healthy cash-flow. Good management and rights to intellectual property in the case of biotech and pharmaceutical companies are also big pluses, Hennessey says.

 

Pay attention to medical records

Doctors review medical records prior to even seeing the patient. They do this to gain an overall understanding of the patient’s medical history and current state. Doctors are able to compare the reports of medical issues with past problems. In some cases, they are able to identify correlations between the two and they can accordingly. A patient’s medical information is like to factor into the processes of diagnosis and treatment.

 

Similarly, investors should consider the “medical histories” of the companies they are considering for investment. Are they a big company with an extensive history of success or a start-up with not much history to go off of? This greatly influences the level of risk involved in investment. Even looking at records of the interaction between the company and their clients can be an indicator of the investment value of the company. Have they had longstanding contracts with clients or were contracts terminated quickly? Again, this can help to inform investment decisions before even getting into the minutia of crunching the numbers.

Select the treat with the most upside

Medical professionals have to make some difficult decisions. In some cases they have to make decisions that reconcile risk with upside. In other words, they may have to choose between a treatment option that is high risk/high reward and low risk/low reward. In the case of doctors, this sensitive decision will vary based on the circumstance. Ultimately, they are looking for the treatment that will secure the best quality of life for the patient.

 

While circumstances in investing will also vary, looking for investment options with an attractive upside is also a good rule of thumb. This decision may be the result of weighing several different factors including company track record and market position. Ultimately, the point is to look for companies that will be able to pay dividends in the foreseeable future. This will fall somewhere within the spectrum of high and low risk/reward scenarios. But as long as investors are on the lookout for promising upside, they should be on the right track.

 

There is no online training or book that can ensure success in resuscitating a stock portfolio through healthcare investing (although there is ACLS online training in the medical field). Still, there are some guidelines that can steer investors in the right general direction. And with the right information and a little luck, investors may find great success in the healthcare sector.

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Failing Grade: Higher Education’s Security Problem

Healthcare and retail are most likely the first two industries you think of when it comes to security hacks or breaches. They’re stocked full of data diamonds waiting for the taking — social security numbers, addresses, birthdays, credit card numbers, bank accounts, and more. But what some people may not realize, higher education institutions house just about the same valuable information. Student records hold payment information, medical records, social security numbers and more. And students aren’t the only ones vulnerable, faculty, staff and alumni also store sensitive data in their files on campus systems. On the black digital market, a university record can run for up to $200 making this intellectual property extremely lucrative for cyber criminals.

 

Not only are higher education institutions a gold mine of personal information, their IT infrastructures and network security tools can be a nightmare to manage. Universities and colleges are a hot bed for bring-your-own-devices–think of all the laptops students bring to classes. Not to mention all the other devices that students, faculty and departments use to further their teaching techniques. Classrooms are moving more towards digital formats and as they do more and more unrestrained and unmanaged devices are hopping onto networks giving hackers a massive attacking surface with thousands of access points. And unfortunately, as more and more millennials start using social media platforms, they continue to open themselves up to risk and once a device is connected to a network, it’s a virtual backdoor into the entire IT infrastructure of an institution.

 

In 2012, a student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hacked into their PeopleSoft-based system (higher education software used from anything from payroll to ordering) and accessed over 650,000 personal records alone. In the 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon, there were over 400 cybersecurity incidents in the educational sector last year alone with 73 of them resulting in data leaks. And developers and software companies aren’t focused on security for educators, for them it’s more about usability and functionality due to the wide-range of users who access them. On top of this, most attacks or malicious acts go undetected since attackers can easily log into the system as a registered user and then gain access to the common system functionality.

 

Additionally, universities and research institutions strive for an open flow of exchange of information and ideas, which basically means no defense for information. The user-friendly uniqueness of educational systems often tend to be what puts them at greatest risk. Not only that, but many institutions lack a well-educated security staff, or a full team at all.

 

The best way to prevent attacks and begin to protect their data is for institutions to first of all, start recognizing they are targets. Then it requires investing in top security defenses, which will require identifying their weaknesses. Other components that will need to be implemented into an institution’s plan of defense is to test and hunt for threats. Some of the top threats that organizations face are user education, cloud security, phishing, governance over data security, unsecured personal devices, and identity and access management.

 

IT teams and CIO’s can help reduce security risks through better user management and training, a proactive defense approach and more secure and effective collaboration among institutions. Other big threats are insecure settings, unencrypted connections, patch management, functionality, insecure trusted connections, default usernames and passwords, open interfaces that enable remote management, and access control measures. Taking into account all of these threats, security teams can better plan how to prevent data breaches.

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5 Ways Technology Is Improving Quality of Life for People with Disabilities

It’s an incredible time to be alive. Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, and with every step forward, we’re able to bring improvements to our daily lives. This is particularly true in the case of people who are living with disabilities. Scientists are developing new technologies and products every day that boost the quality of life of those who have disabilities to work with. Below, we’ve gathered some of the coolest examples we’ve seen in recent years:

1. Refreshable Braille Displays

By embossing pages with a series of configurations of raised dots, each configuration representing a different letter, the braille writing system allows blind people to read. When it was invented in the early 19th century, the braille writing system changed the world for people who previously had almost no access to the written word. The new method of communication and expression opened avenues that had previously been locked.

But as communication began to transition to the internet, similar problems arose. The information displayed on the computer screens was difficult to translate efficiently into braille. To combat this, researchers have been developing refreshable braille displays using electroactive polymer film that responds to electricity. These displays adapt to convert letters, graphical information, and mathematical equations into braille. As research progresses, these displays are becoming more affordable and more accessible to the vision impaired.

2. 3D Printing

3D printing is a relatively new technology that has been racing forward and is offering impressive new solutions in a variety of fields, particularly medicine. There have been instances of experts using 3D printing technology to create airway splints for newborns and infants, prosthetic limbs for amputees, and even new skin for burn victims. Audiologists are able to use the technology to print hearing aid shells that are custom-fitted to their patients, as well as dental bridges and crowns using digital scans of patients’ teeth and the insides of their mouths.

The technology is of particular value to young children with missing limbs. As these children grow, their prosthetic limbs no longer fit, and prostheses can be very expensive to replace. 3D printers make it possible to scale the designs to fit the growing child and reprint new ones as the child grows out of previous versions.

3. Video Description Services

According to a 1997 study by the American Foundation for the Blind, blind and visually impaired people watch television and video recordings about as often as fully sighted people. However, often, they find the experience to be frustrating, because they can’t see what is happening on the screen.

To combat this, many videos now employ video description services, which involve an additional audio track that contains audible descriptions of the visible action. Experts will view the material, create the audio tracks, and embed them into the final product. Video streaming technology now allows these tracks to be provided but not required, meaning sighted and non-sighted people can access the same video, with the non-sighted people enabling the extra track.

4. Driverless Cars

For decades, one of the symbols of technological advancement has been the self-driving car. From the cheesy science fiction shows of the 1960s to Hollywood blockbusters in recent years, seeing a car that could take a passenger from one point to another without the need of a driver is a sure sign that the story takes place in The Future.

These days, however, that future doesn’t seem quite so far off. Several car companies, such as Ford and Tesla, as well as tech-based companies like the ride-sharing giant Uber and the colossal Google, have been pouring resources into the race to be the first to release a self-driving car. It will likely only be a matter of a few short years before those dreams come to fruition, and that will mean big changes for people living with disabilities. Suddenly, there will be no need to ask for a ride or worry about seeing the road. Seniors who have given up their licenses will still be able to travel just as they did before.

5. Finger Readers

The Finger Reader is a new, wearable tool that makes the written word more accessible. The user wears the device on his or her index finger and scans the finger over printed text, either on a book or on an electronic device. The device provides audible feedback in one of two functions: either the book reads the printed text aloud, or it translates the text into a different language before vocalizing it. If the user’s finger reaches the end of a line of text or accidentally wanders onto a different line of text, the device will vibrate to alert them.

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